My beloved falafel. I remember the days when I would make it in large batches to have flavorful protein on hand whenever needed, mainly because it freezes so well. But of course, I am infamous for getting distracted by new dishes in the kitchen and forgetting all about old favorites. I’m always excited to remake past loves though, and these flatbreads were everything I needed to remind myself what I’ve been missing.
If you’ve never had the garlic sauce served with this meal, it is a Lebanese spread that is fluffy, smooth, and a mouthwatering companion to just about anything. A note on preparing it: emulsification takes patience. It can be tedious, and the sauce could potentially break if you rush it (the oil will separate). If you’re not up for this process, you could skip making the sauce and purchase some at the store. Although it’s uncommon, I have seen it at Trader Joe’s. If you are willing though, homemade will yield 6x more than store-bought and keep in the fridge forever. It’s delicious with warm pita, served with veggies, and of course, falafel. I served the garlic spread on flatbreads with a cherry tomato, cucumber, kale, cilantro and lemon mixture and the falafel recipe below.
Now when it comes to falafel, this deserves our patience and should always be homemade. Any other way is simply not going to taste the same, and thus, is not worth it. The only people I’ve known that don’t like falafel have never had it fresh, so don’t cheat yourself. When making falafel, using dried garbanzos is essential. I’ve tried skipping this step and using canned before, and the consistency is not right. It either falls apart or, it will stay together but stays wet in the center. I assure you, soaking dried beans for 12-24 hours is a necessary aspect of perfect falafel. Making this dish may take some light preparation, but it is all worth it. Buying bulk beans means you reduce packaging waste in landfills, get way more for your money, and have fresher, more flavorful dishes. Don’t pass on amazing meals because of planning!
- 1 cup dried garbanzo beans (soaked)
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 small onion, cubed
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- zest of one lemon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- oil for frying (grapeseed oil or similar)
- *garbanzo flour, but only if necessary (max 4 tablespoons)
- Place the garbanzo beans in a large bowl and cover with plenty of water. The beans will absorb and grow to 3 cups, so make sure you add enough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, place out of direct sunlight, and soak at least 12-24 hours.
- Drain the garbanzos once they’ve soaked, then use a kitchen towel to pat/roll them, removing as much moisture as possible.
- Transfer all ingredients, except the oil and flour, to a food processor or blender. Pulse several times, scraping down sides, then pulsing again. Don’t over blend. The mixture should be combined, but have some garbanzo pieces.
- Move to a bowl and form into falafel balls. If it is not holding together or seems too wet, add the garbanzo flour but only 1 tablespoon at a time. Let it sit for 10 minutes before forming falafel balls.
- Heat an inch of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm, gently place the falafel in one at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Let cook about 3 minutes per side. As you cook in batches, be sure to test one from the first batch and decide if you need to adjust the cooking time.
Lebanese garlic sauce
- 1 cup of garlic, peeled (this is several heads of garlic)
- 3 cups of neutral oil (grapeseed, avocado, etc.)
- 1/4 cup lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the oil in the freezer or refrigerator, so it’s chilled but still liquid.
- Add the peeled garlic to a food processor or blender with salt and run for 10-20 seconds.
- Stop, scrape down the sides, then rerun processor until it becomes a fine paste.
- From this point on you’ll keep the processor running. Start pouring the oil in very slowly (thread-like stream of oil), a third of a cup at a time.
- After adding the first 1/3 cup of oil, pour in one teaspoon of lemon juice very slowly.
- Go back to repeating the same process of slowly adding a third cup of oil, then one teaspoon of lemon juice. Alternating like this is very important for emulsifying.
- It takes about 10 minutes total. The result should be a fluffy mayo-like consistency. Place in container and store in the refrigerator. Spread on anything – wraps, sandwiches, veggies.
Beet & Mint Salad
- 4-6 large beets, cubed
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/4 cup mint
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice from one lemon
- dash of cumin
- generous amount of salt & pepper, to taste
- If you bought fresh beets, rinse them off and boil them with skin on. Once you can pierce them with a fork (about 40 minutes, but this depends on the size), drain the water and run the beets under cold water.
- The skin will peel off easily now that they’ve softened from cooking, so remove the skin from each beet.
- Place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so that they cool down.
- Add all ingredients together in a bowl and serve.